Melbourne and St. Kilda met at Etihad Stadium to finalize their preparations for Round 1 with both sides putting their best available on the park. The Demons superior skills were the difference in the end as they came out 24-point winners, but both sides showed great endeavour to hunt the ball and apply pressure.
What we learnt
Max Gawn and Jack Viney: Gawn and Viney have received a lot of fanfare in fantasy circles due to their dominant preseason form and today did nothing to slow their growing hype. Gawn finished the match with 13 disposals, three marks, six tackles and 26 hitouts while Viney had 23 disposals, three marks, eight tackles and four clearances. Both are better suited to SuperCoach in my opinion because they are more likely to become premium options in their position, but there’s value in DreamTeam too.
Ben Kennedy: Kennedy played his best game of the preseason in this match collecting 16 disposals, five marks, five tackles and goal, but most importantly tidied up his ball use and provided manic pressure. Kennedy is being played as a half-forward who pushes into the midfield and looks to have secured a place in the Demons Round 1 side. At just either side of $200k depending on the format I think Kennedy is a worthwhile F5/6 prospect.
Clayton Oliver: Oliver is another who has had a strong preseason campaign at Demonland and will be on the verge on making his debut in Round 1. For a solidly built player Oliver is balanced in the way he accumulates the ball with 11 of his 18 disposals uncontested and seven contested. Oliver’s work around the stoppages is clearly a strength of his as he laid six tackles and was present in a number of centre bounces. If named Round 1 he certainly has to be considered for your side as he’s looked extremely comfortable so far at AFL level.
Nathan Jones: Jones looks set to regain his 2014 form after injury limited his impact in the tail end of 2015. The Demons skipper led the way against the Saints with 30 disposals, five marks, six clearances and four tackles, and inspires his teammates with his appetite for the contest. Jones isn’t likely to produce premium numbers in salary cap formats but in draft competitions he’s definitely undervalued based on what he did last year.
The Demons are undefeated in the preseason and look like a much improved side. Attacking football has clearly been a focus throughout the summer as they are looking to move the ball quickly from defence and aren’t afraid to come through the corridor to open up the play. Melbourne’s squad depth is the best it’s been in years and with Lynden Dunn, Angus Brayshaw, Heritier Lumumba and Aaron Vandenberg all likely to return to the side in Round 1, there’s a lot of competition for spots.
What we learnt
Jack Steven: The simplest way I can think to describe Steven is ‘busy.’ The gut-running St. Kilda midfielder seems to be involved in everything, whether it’s on the inside, outside, marking, tackling or kicking goals, he’s happy to do it all and that’s what makes him such a great fantasy player. Steven’s all-round ability was evident against the Demons as he amassed 30 disposals (17 contested), four marks, eight clearances, seven tackles and a goal. I haven’t seen Steven in many teams to date but with his massive ceiling he could be a valuable player of difference to get your side off to a fast start.
Jack Billings: Reminded me of Brett Deledio at times in this match as he played the leading half-forward role and is an extremely polished ball user. Kicked all three of his goals in the first term and finished the match with 19 disposals and six marks. Billings should bump his average up by 5-10 points, which would leave him on the verge of premium status as forward, however, the fact that he’s only played 25 games in two seasons is a concern.
Leigh Montagna: In typical Montagna fashion he floated around the ground finding space and collecting the ball. The consensus this preseason seems to be that Montagna is overpriced and should be viewed as an upgrade target, and I tend to agree. However, like Steven he could be a clever player of difference as he has the potential to produce massive scores and will likely be one of the top premium forward options by years end.
Jade Gresham: The first-year St. Kilda midfielder didn’t see the field until the second half but managed to gather 11 disposals at 90 percent efficiency, seven marks and four inside 50s in that time. His overexcitement looked to cost him a goal as he dropped a sitter 15m out from goal when he first came on but as the match went on his settled in. I’m not sure if he’s in the Saints Round 1 plans but looks like an accumulator, which is exactly what we want from our rookies.
The Saints just weren’t as sharp as the Demons, which could be due to the fact that they have played one less preseason match after heavy rain cancelled their encounter with the Lions last week, but their effort wasn’t ever in question. Nick Riewoldt was touted for more midfield time this preseason and while did venture up the ground more he didn’t have his usual amount of influence and spent most of the final quarter on the bench icing his calf, although St. Kilda coach Alan Richardson said he was purely being managed.